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Douglas XFD

Combat Fighter Prototype Aircraft [ 1933 ]

The Douglas XFD-1 represented the first foray by the Douglas Aircraft Company into the world of military fighters - it failed to impress.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/28/2019 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

Today the famous Douglas Aircraft Company (DAC) name is buried under its parent label Boeing as part of McDonnell Douglas. DAC went defunt in 1967 under a merger with the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation but, before this, the company was responsible for a myriad of designs spanning a multitude of aircraft types attempting to fulfill various requirements of the United States military. The company was associated with such designs as classic A-4 Skyhawk, A-26 Invader, C-54 Skymaster, the Skystreak/Skyrocket experimental programs, the various DC passenger/cargo haulers, and the SBD Dauntless to name a few. Prior to the company's many contributions to the field of aviation was its first attempt at a military fighter in the short-lived, ultimately cancelled "XFD".

The XFD was a product of the inter period bridging the two World Wars. It was developed for the United States Navy (USN) service as a carrierborne fighter utilizing a conventional fixed-undercarriage, biplane winged configuration. The crew of two sat (in tandem) under a long-running greenhouse-style canopy over midships with the wing members fitted forward. The engine was set in the nose in the usual way and drove a basic two-bladed propeller unit. With the fixed main legs under the forward mass of the aircraft, a single tail wheel brought up the rear giving the aircraft a nose-up attitude when at rest thanks to its "tail dragger" form. Construction of the aircraft involved metal with fabric used for skinning.

Douglas proposed its XFD with an armament array of 2 x 0.30 caliber machine guns of which one would be fixed, forward-firing and controlled by the pilot and the other would be managed by the second, rear-facing, crewmember in the aft-cockpit (the gun seated on a trainable mounting). Beyond this, the aircraft was rated with a bomb load of up to 500lb, the stores to be carried externally.

To power their new development, Douglas engineers selected the Pratt & Whitney R-1535-64 "Twin Wasp Junior" 14-cylinder, air-cooled radial piston engine of 700 horsepower. This would be used to drive the two-bladed propeller unit at the nose and air-cooled units were heavily favored by the USN service for their inherent power and survivability features.

The aircraft was arranged to satisfy USN Specification No.113 calling for a twin-seat fighter capable of operating from the service's existing stock of flat-tops. Three designs were ordered for further development by the USN, these becoming the Curtiss XF12C, the Vought XF3U and, of course, the proposed Douglas XFD.

Douglas flew the XFD-1 prototype for the first time during January of 1933 and, in June of that year, the aircraft was handed over to Naval Air Station Anacostia for formal tests. Testing lasted into the middle-late part of 1934. By this time, authorities of the USN were no longer looking for two-man fighters and gave up interest in the XFD and its competitor from Vought. This resulted in the end of the XFD program in full while the Curtiss XF12C evolved to become the SBC "Helldiver" scout bomber and 257 of the type were produced, the line operating into 1943.

As flown, the XFD managed a maximum speed of 204 miles per hour and cruised at 170mph. Range was out to 575 miles while its service ceiling reached 23,700 feet. Rate-of-climb was a useful 1,670 feet-per-minute.

The XFD marked one of the final interwar attempts at bringing a twin-seat carrierborne fighter for the USN into existence.©MilitaryFactory.com
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Service Year

United States national flag graphic
United States

Development Ended.


Douglas Aircraft Company - USA
(View other Aviaton-Related Manufacturers)
Untied States (cancelled)
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Air-to-Air Combat, Fighter
General ability to actively engage other aircraft of similar form and function, typically through guns, missiles, and/or aerial rockets.
X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.

25.3 ft
(7.72 m)
31.5 ft
(9.60 m)
25.3 ft
(7.72 m)
Empty Wgt
3,230 lb
(1,465 kg)
5,004 lb
(2,270 kg)
Wgt Diff
+1,775 lb
(+805 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Douglas XFD-1 production variant)
Installed: 1 x Pratt & Whitney R-1535-64 14-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine developing 700 horsepower driving a two-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
Max Speed
205 mph
(330 kph | 178 kts)
23,622 ft
(7,200 m | 4 mi)
578 mi
(930 km | 1,722 nm)
1,670 ft/min
(509 m/min)

♦ MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030

(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the Douglas XFD-1 production variant. Performance specifications showcased above are subject to environmental factors as well as aircraft configuration. Estimates are made when Real Data not available. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database or View aircraft by powerplant type)
1 x 0.30 caliber machine gun in fixed, forward-firing mounting at the engine cowling.
1 x 0.30 caliber machine gun on flexible mounting in rear cockpit.

Up to 500lb of conventional drop bombs mounted externally.

Supported Types

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition

(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 2

XFD - Base Series Name.
XFD-1 - Single, flyable prototype example.

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Image of the Douglas XFD
Image from the Public Domain.


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